Mini Puzzlers by Pentangle - Random Pick #13

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 by Gabriel | 2 comments
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Random Pick #13 from My Collection.

The Mini Puzzlers are a range of pocket sized puzzles manufactured by Pentangle. There are 12 different challenges available and they vary in several different categories and difficulties (Assembly, Interlocking, String, etc...). Each puzzle comes in a clear plastic case, has a different colored tape for the lid opener and the writing is engraved in golden ink. No solution provided...

Here for review, I have half of them:

Ace of Diamonds

The instructions in this one aren't entirely clear. You have 16 diamond-shaped pieces with "clubs", "hearts" and "spades" and you're supposed to fill a grid by matching identical symbols. Since you have three of the four shapes depicted on the pieces, and the only left is "diamonds", I guess the goal is to create a large diamond with the pieces, as demonstrated in the picture below... I'm  not sure if it's possible to have other shapes as solutions, though. This is my favorite from the ones I have, because of the colorful design and overall presentation of the pieces.

Edit: Cleverwood has a more detailed description about the goal of this puzzle. You have to build a hexagon, with the blue lines on the pieces as boarders, to group together the "clubs", "hearts" and "spades". I guess it's possible to build other shapes, after all, counting the one I built...

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7 pieces form this variation of the Soma Cube by Piet Hein. The object of this puzzle is very similar, with the only difference that you have to arrange the pieces in a checkerboard pattern that fits into the box. From the 240 possible solutions, only a small fraction of them builds this pattern. It sounds harder, but if you think about it, it's much simpler... As there are less ways to assemble it in any given way, you're left with only a few possible moves for a specific piece and by exclusions, you'll probably find a solution faster than if it was for the regular Soma Cube.

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The classic challenge...
Now with six pieces, your goal is to find a solution to make a cube. For reasons described above, this is probably a harder challenge than the Soma-Check, as there are much more positions available for any given piece, thus providing also many impossible ones in the process... For alternate challenges, you can also build different shapes, other than the cube (a rectangle, for example, or even a 2D square with all of the pieces).

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The Pyramid, or tetrahedron is formed by four identical pieces. Each piece has a rhombus base and two pairs of identical faces. To build the triangular based pyramid, you have to only find a way to connect two pieces in a stable way (they form a square in one of their shared faces). When you identify that connection, the other two pieces connect in the exact same way. now, you just have to join those two square faces and your pyramid is built. Not that easy when you don't have any information on how to solve it.

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This is an original variation of the classic Soma Cube. The puzzle comes in the cube state solution and you have to build a penthouse with the two oblique pieces for the roof. As the puzzle is formed by a box of 4x4x4 units, and not counting the two roof pieces, you have to build a 3x4x4 rectangle and then, simply add the roof as the final step. The puzzle is described to be harder to return to the cube solution, but I actually took the same amount of time approximately, to find both solutions... It's up to you to find out which one is harder, or if they're the same difficulty.

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Another classic design of the six-piece burr. The only difference is in its size... As with almost every burr (there are a few exceptions), this one is no different when it comes to the solution. There's a "key" piece that doesn't have any inside cuts and just slides out to take all the other pieces apart... The difficult part is to put it back in the original state, though. If you don't pay close attention when you separate the pieces, it may prove extremely difficult to find the correct solution again. Only one solution, by the way...

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One curiosity from the six-piece burrs: There are 119,979 ways to build a six-piece burr from 369 different pieces.

Closing Comments:

Several of the Mini Puzzlers challenges are widely available for many years now, so why buy these? Well, if you're a collector, they are all worth getting. Mostly, for the neat way they're presented, with a reduced size and a different colored tape for each box. For more details go to Pentangle Puzzles.


Rajesh Kumar said...

Nice blog. I always wanted to solve manically puzzles but very difficult to find in India. Will you will coming to Poland for WPC 2010?

Gabriel said...

Thank you for your kind words, Rajesh.

I have the exact same problem as you. Here in Portugal, puzzle stores are very rare. I have to buy all my puzzles from abroad, at online shops. I can send you a list of these recommended stores, if you like.

Unfortunately, I won't attend the WPC... Have a great time there ;-)


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